January 7, 2011

Best Amplifiers 2010.

Amplifiers did not change as much like digital sources in year 2010, most still worked in analog domain and the so called class D assault in to high end audio dom' seemingly lost momentum, if only for a while. In the mean time, tubes never really went away and the return of the VTL brand to our shores is a warm welcome indeed, musically speaking of course! Mean while, integrated amps continues to trend further up market.
Ayre MX-R mono blocks are the best sounding amps this year without a doubt!

The Ayre MX-R is surely the most deserved winner this year in the best amplifier category this year. Nothing came close to it's sonic charms of supreme refinement, un-coloured mid range beauty and beautifully balanced all round capabilities. It's only slightly weak on the dynamics side when powering too demanding a speaker load. It's jewel like finished clamp shell case design, milled from a piece of solid aluminium ingot is a sight to behold, as should be for an ultra high end product.

This VTL tube combo offers tubey sonics charms with the slam bang of modern amps! One can have it all, nearly.

Taking the runner up position this year is the VTL TL 2.5 pre & MB 125 tube power combo here. The beguiling tonal qualities of tubes aside, it portrays a huge dimensional sound stage with spatial cues highly apparent, plus no shortage of dynamics slam bang, despite it's modestly rated power output! What more can an audiophile or music lover want?
The Usher Reference 2.5s is a work horse amplifier that will drive and drive any speaker load!

The Usher Reference 2.5s power amp is the epitome of frugal(cost only RM$13k) muscle power amp. It clearly reminded me of the vintage Krell KSA series muscle amps of yester years, with it's un break able power to drive any speaker load, yet does it with a healthy dose of the transparency, and low noise floor of today's power amp technology. It's a no brainer if one wants to rock the neighbour hood or just plain feeding juice thirsty speaker loads!

The Coda CSI B is a balanced one box beast.

The Coda CSI B integrated amp combines huge class A/B power/current on tap and convenience in to one box solution. It's surprisingly neutral and transparent sounding, yet offers some of the lowest noise floor in amplifier design today. It's not cheap at RM$21k, but still worth a special mention here.

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